Monday, January 18, 2010

V-Reds Extend Winning Streak to 19 Games

January 17, 2010

It was a big weekend in AUS men’s hockey, with first place and CIS #1-ranked UNB on the road to face second place Acadia and third place Saint Mary's. Matching expectations, there were season high crowds in both rinks – Friday 2335 fans showed up at the Halifax Forum and Saturday there was a full house of 1978 fans at the Acadia Arena. The home fans went home disappointed, as UNB skated to a 6-1 win over SMU and a close 2-1 victory over Acadia and extended their team-record undefeated start to 19 games.

The buzz about Mike Danton probably helped the Huskies attendance Friday, but he doesn't look to be getting into the Huskies line-up for a couple of weeks yet. The first period was pretty even and tightly played with no scoring. In the second period UNB's struggling power play started clicking and captain Kyle Bailey (Ponoka, AB) shot the puck from behind the SMU goal line and banked it off goalie Brandon Verge (Fall River, NS) and in at 8:08. Just over a minute later SMU defenceman David MacDonald (Baddeck, NS) hit Hunter Tremblay (Timmins, ON) high and hard along the boards and was assessed a two minute minor for the blow to the head and an automatic ten minute misconduct. Tremblay left the game after the hit and didn’t return. On the resulting power play Dion Campbell (Melville, SK) fired a heavy shot that Verge kicked out to the high slot, and right to UNB defenceman Ben Shutron (Orleans, ON), who buried the puck in the top corner. It got worse for the Huskies at 12:29 when Campbell beat Verge on the short side, and then 40 seconds Verge was too deep in his net and Daine Todd (Stettler, AB) stickhandled through a crowd and was able to beat him on the far side. With Verge giving up four goals on eight shots SMU coach then had rookie Neil Conway (Concord, OH) took over in SMU nets. He got beat by Jordan Clendenning (Fredericton, NB) at 17:50 to give UNB five goals in the period.

There was some rough stuff in the third period after Cam Fergus (Brantford, ON) finally put the Huskies on the scoreboard at 14:03. SMU's 6'7” Justin Wallingford (Hamilton, ON) caught UNB’s Luke Lynes (Rochester Hills, MI) in an awkward position and hammered him along the boards in front of the V-Reds bench. This created a scrum and several penalties. Then 40 seconds later on the power play two UNB defenders collided in the offensive zone and SMU cleared the puck. UNB goalie Travis Fullerton (Rivierview, NB) elected to race out of his net to the high slot to try to win the race for the loose puck, and he got bowled over by SMU defenceman Andrew Hotham (Barrie, ON) who skated through him. This caused another scrum, and when it settled down Hotham had earned a five minute major for charging and four V-Reds and two Huskies were handed ten minute misconducts and were off to the showers early. Lynes ended the scoring at 16:56 on the power play when the V-Reds flooded the front of the net and he got the last whack at the puck past Conway. The final score was 6-1 for UNB, with the Huskies edging the V-Reds 31-27 in shots. UNB went 3-for-7 on the power play while SMU’s normally potent PP went 0-for-8.

Saturday night's Acadia-UNB match was quite different. On the big Olympic ice surface in Wolfville it was mostly end-to-end hockey all game, and there was little of the nasty stuff from the night before. Once again UNB opened the scoring with two goals in the second period. At 7:53 UNB was on the power play, and rookie star Chris Culligan (Howie Center, NS) was all alone just in front of the net for quick shot after the V-Reds had drawn most of the Axemen into the other corner. Around seven minutes later, in a practiced play, defenceman Luke Gallant (Bedford, NS) faked a point shot and fired a hard shot-pass through the slot to John Scott Dickson (Barrie, ON) who one-timed the puck past the surprised Acadia goalie Kristofer Westblom (Meadow Lake, SK). Travis Fullerton continued to foil the Axemen shooters until 13:41 of the third period, when Jonathan Laberge (Ste-Foy, QC) made a bit of a shoulder fake on the rush and then beat Fullerton with a snap shot. It was Acadia’s 44th shot of the game. Acadia was on the power play with 2:27 to go in the game, and pulled Westblom for an extra skater with just over a minute to go, but they couldn’t generate many scoring chances against UNB’s defensive shell. The shot count may have been generous to the Axemen and stingy with the V-Reds, as the official tally was 48-21 in favour of Acadia. The shots were not indicative of the play, as this game was pretty even with perhaps UNB having a slight edge in play, particularly on the penalty kill. Acadia did do a phenomenal job blocking shots while shorthanded, and this obviously affected the UNB shot count.

With the two wins on the weekend UNB's perfect win streak is now at 19 games, and they have now clinched a playoff berth. Next up for the V-Reds is a trip to Orono on Tuesday night to play the NCAA’s Maine Black Bears. This game was originally scheduled for January 2, but was snowed out when nasty weather hit Maine and New Brunswick.

By David Kilfoil for the UNB Varsity Reds.

1 comment:

David Kilfoil said...

As a P.S. I forgot to mention that before the Laberge goal, Tyler Whitehead had a penalty shot at 12:25 of the third when Josh Kidd dove and swung his stick to try to take the puck away from Whitehead on a breakaway. Whitehead tried to go five-hole, but Fullerton just kept it out.